Stephen Boyd and Shirley Jones were friendly acquaintances for over 20 years in Hollywood. They also starred in a NBC Monday Night Movie Television Pilot called “The Lives of Jenny Dolan” which aired in October of 1975. Jones plays a reporter who is drawn out of her honeymoon retirement to pursue a baffling (and convoluted!) crime conspiracy. Boyd plays her handsome, demanding yet sympathetic boss. The movie also featured Farley Granger and Ian McShane. The movie was meant to be the beginning of a new television series for Jones, as the very popular “The Partridge Family” had just ended in 1974.
Shirley Jones, in an interview from 1975, explained that the concept of Jenny Dolan was comparable to the courageous Dorothy Kilgallen. Kilgallen (well known from the TV show “What’s My Line?”) had died in 1965, but her death was left open to speculation concerning her aggressive investigation of the JFK murder and the FBI. (Watch Stephen Boyd on “What’s my Line?” with Dorothy Kilgallen here!)
“I guess she would come closest to the idea of a woman reporter out in the world covering big stories.” (Oct 26, 1975, Arizona Daily Star)
Amazingly, the TV movie was filmed in just 16 days! And it does have an actual movie quality about it. Unfortunately the TV series was not picked up by NBC. It would have been a great opportunity for Stephen Boyd at the time to have been in Hollywood as a mainstay on a television series!
Shirley Jones was most notable for musicals “Oklahoma” (1955), “Carousel” (1956) and as Marian “The Librarian” in the fantastic “The Music Man” (1962) and the erstwhile mother of “The Partridge Family” in the 1970’s. Shirley is still making films!
Stephen Boyd was linked to many a Hollywood beauty or starlet throughout his career. In mid-1965 he was rumored to be romancing none other than David O. Selznick’s widow, Jennifer Jones. O. Selznick had just passed away in June of 1965 after a long marriage with Jones, and Boyd seems to have been first in line to seek her affections – or at least that’s how the columnist spun it. Here are the newspaper rumor- mill headlines from around that time.
“Now that Jennifer Jones has returned to film making, her romantic life (real or for the benefit of the press) has become amazingly active. She’s been linked with several attractive gentleman, among them Stephen Boyd, who was in Las Vegas when an avid cupid-watcher saw them in London together (those jet flights are getting faster and faster….) (Philadelphia Daily News, Oct 14, 1965)
“It’s finally out that Stephen Boyd saw quite a bit of Jennifer Jones before she left for Europe to make a picture, and he’s been on the phone with her many times in Madrid…” ( Hedda Hopper, Hartford Courant, Oct 25, 1965)
“Jennifer Jones and Stephen Boyd are corresponding. Today it’s friendship. Tomorrow, who knows? Actually I doubt whether Jennifer is in the mood for anything of a romantic nature–right now, that is. She is putting together the bits and pieces of her life which were disrupted with the death of her husband David Selznick. (Sheilah Graham, The Pittsburgh Press, Nov 5, 1965)
“Jennifer Jones, filming in Joe Levine’s “The Idol,” in England, is being column-linked with actor Stephen Boyd. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jennifer, whose husband David O. Selznick, died recently, is being consoled by a handsome young hairdresser she brought with her from Hollywood. Boyd, wisely figuring that the publicity can’t hurt him, isn’t bothering to deny the rumors, but his romantic interests lie in a different direction. (Alex Freeman, Hartford Courant, Nov 8, 1965)
“It’s costing Stephen Boyd a small fortune for all those calls from Hollywood to Jennifer Jones in Spain…” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov 29, 1965)
Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker
Actress Jennifer Jones became a Hollywood star after her first starring role in The Song of Bernadette in 1944 which also won her an Oscar for Best Actress. At the time she came to Hollywood she was an aspiring Broadway actress named Phyllis Walker and she was married to actor Robert Walker who was a star on New York radio programs. They had two sons.
Unfortunately for Robert Walker, Phyllis Walker caught the eye of producer David O. Selznick when she auditioned for the role of Bernadette at 630 Fifth Ave. in New York City in July of 1941. From this day forward, David O. Selznick set his sights on making the newly named Jennifer Jones a star and his wife, destroying Robert Walker in the process.
Star-Crossed by Beverly Linet goes into the details of this tragic Hollywood romance. Selznick even had the nerve to cast Walker opposite Jones in the film Since You Went Away (1944) after their marriage had crumbled which was a heartbreaking experience for both Robert and Jennifer.
Jennifer Jones went onto star in Duel in the Sun with Joseph Cotten and Gregory Peck, Ruby Gentry with Charlton Heston and The Barretts of Wimpole Street with John Gielgud, The Idol with Michael Parks and her final film the 1970’s The Towering Inferno with an all-star cast. Robert Walker played innocent boyish types in almost all of his films including The Clock with Judy Garland, The Sailor Takes a Wife with June Allyson, One Touch of Venus with Ava Gardner and Her Highness and the Bellboy with Hedy Lamarr. Alfred Hitchcock turned Robert’s boyish charm on its head in his most memorable role as the psychotic killer Bruno Antony in Hitchcock’s masterpiece Strangers on a Train.
Robert Walker would die at the young age of 31 as the result of depression and alcohol, Jennifer Jones remained married to David O. Selznick until his death in the 1964. Jennifer attempted suicide three times. In an interesting side note, in 1967 when Jennifer Jones checked into a Malibu motel and attempted suicide with pills she had checked in under her previous married name – Phyllis Walker.
Apparently 20th Century Fox’s “The Big Gamble” is airing in the UK right now, so I thought I’d post a few photos from the film. It’s one of my favorite Stephen Boyd movies, and it’s a shame it hasn’t been released in it’s full wide-screen splendor on Blu-Ray! Juliette Greco, the fantastic French chanteuse, is delightful, as is David Wayne. It’s also a perfect role for Stephen Boyd’s rugged Irish demeanor. The film was made in various locations – Ireland, Southern France, and the Ivory Coast of Africa – during the spring and early summer of 1960. Read more about The Adventure of filming “The Big Gamble” here. Of all people, the delicate but intrepid Juliette Greco made not one – not two- but three drama/ adventure movies in Africa! Talk about the African Queen! The films are “The Naked Earth” (1958 with Richard Todd), “Roots of Heaven” (1958 with Trevor Howard) and “The Big Gamble” (1961).
The Big Gamble (Le Grand Risque) French Photo Novel 1961
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Turner Classic Movies will be playing another Stephen Boyd flick this weekend! FANTASTIC VOYAGE will air this Saturday night in honor of Oscar Month – FAVORITE ‘60S VISUAL EFFECTS WINNER
I alway love to see when FANTASTIC VOYAGE gets a little love. It is such an amazing science fiction movie! And seeing Stephen Boyd in that splendidly form-fitting zippered white wet-suit is always worthwhile as well. Yes, my heart skips a beat!
Such a great cast too, with Donald Pleasence, Edmund O’Brien, Arthur Kennedy and up-and-coming sex symbol Raquel Welch!
I came across something recently while browsing away on Newspapers.com. Stephen Boyd actually owned a car dealership in Burbank for a brief time in the early 1970’s! Now Stephen was of course always fond of cars. Cars were probably his greatest passion – next to golf, or course. But his dealership was specifically aimed at the sports cars from Europe like “the MG, Austin American and Lotus automobiles”. Apparently Stephen purchased the dealership in 1970 right after the sale of the failing mega-studio MGM sale, when he also obtained his trusty old Messala chariot as well!
The things people are buying at the MGM auction! Still, I guess it figures that Steve Boyd’s biggest check was written to buy his “Ben-Hur” chariot.
He intends to park it as the showpiece at his newly acquired imported car dealership – Stephen Boyd’s Sports Car Center – in beautiful downtown Burbank. (The San Francisco Examiner, May 20, 1970)
Stephen Boyd introduces a new concept in foreign car automotive service called “Old English Service.” We invite you to stop in and try this new concept in personalized service….we know you’ll be glad you did. (Van Nuys News, California, June 26, 1970)
This concept meant customers could have their car serviced in a minimum amount of time while waiting the in the comfortable waiting lounge. The dealership was located at 811 South San Fernando Blvd in Burbank, which is still currently a “Tesla” car dealer. It’s located not too far from a Ralph’s grocery these days. It has been a car dealership location since the early 1950’s.
It looks like Stephen kept this dealership until about late 1971 when the ads seems to disappear. One of Stephen’s brothers had come to California with him in the early 1960’s as a mechanic, I believe. Per a family tip on Twitter (thanks Thomas!), Stephen’s brother Alex helped run the garage. A ex-restaurant owner named Mort Katz was selected to be the manager. (Van Nuys News, June 28, 1970)
In 1970 Stephen Boyd also appeared in the Paul Newman racing documentary called Once Upon a Wheel. Newman hosts and narrates the history of auto racing. Stephen, even though a car enthusiast, doesn’t seem to be into racing himself. He is on the sidelines in the pit crew, and explains “I’m chicken” when asked why he is not partaking. Actor Kirk Douglas is seen as well.
Actor and motor sports enthusiast PAUL NEWMAN and professional race car driver PARNELLI JONES seated in red Porsche 914 sports coupe parked in pit alley at Ontario Motor Speedway / Paul Newman wearing white racing suit, walking toward camera in pits, packed spectator stands / Paul Newman talking with honorary pit crew that includes singer LOU RAWLS and actor STEPHEN BOYD/ OMS Celebrity Pro-Am on August 09, 1970 in Ontario, California (Footage by Getty Images)